Q. Back in December 2000, I received a letter from DoD that I may have been exposed to a low-level dose of nerve agent. What is that all about?
A. On December 5, 2000, the Department of Defense revised its Gulf War
narrative, "U.S. Demolition Operations at Khamisiyah." The revised narrative presents the story of Khamisiyah and the possible low-level exposure of more than 100,000 U.S. service members to chemical warfare agents. The report has much greater detail than the 1997 report and subsequent modeling, and includes the first look at the new potential exposure area that resulted when U.S. forces destroyed a cache of 122mm rockets containing the nerve agents sarin and cyclosarin.
It had always been our intent to provide additional information about our investigation of the events at Khamisiyah. We published our case narrative in 1997 as an "interim and made a commitment to veterans and the public to continue our investigation. The report released December 5, 2000 reflects a deliberate effort over the past three years to ensure that Gulf War veterans have current, accurate information, as well as our ongoing commitment to continue to update that information in the future.
The updated information is the best information we have to date. It refines what we know about where people were, improves our understanding of the chemical warfare agents destroyed in 1991, and uses improved technology to re-model the estimated exposure area.
Based on the refined information and current medical research, we still believe the possible low-level exposure will not cause long-term health effects.
We encourage any Gulf War veteran who has health concerns to enroll in the programs offered by the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs. Both programs offer a free in-depth physical evaluation. To schedule an appointment with the DoD's Comprehensive Clinical Evaluation Program, veterans should call (800) 796-9699. To schedule an appointment with the Veterans Affairs Persian Gulf Registry, veterans should call (800) 749-8387.
Approximately 140,000 letters were mailed to Gulf War veterans. Because this is an area of concern to many Gulf War veterans, letters were sent to five different groups of veterans. They include: